How is your life under lockdown?

As I read an article with the same title as this post, I realized that the premise was quite right. The four authors had looked at tweets from Melbourne to see how the quality of your life under lockdown depends on the neighbourhood that you live in. Do you reveal your moods on social media? I haven’t been reading tweets, but the blogs I read do reveal the ups and downs of our moods during lockdown.

Now that restrictions are being lifted, and we are able to leave home, it seems to be a good time to take stock of the last seven months. You will remember that there was a lot of despair at the beginning of the pandemic, at a time when the number of cases was small, but growing rapidly. That didn’t last too long. Very soon I could see people reacting quite individually.

It was interesting how people reacted to the claustrophobia of strict lockdowns. The Family was never terribly interested in cooking, but, like a lot of people around the world, she dived into it. And found that she was good at it. Like many of you, we rediscovered our families, and had frequent chats on phone and video calls with far-flung family members.

“What kept us sane?” I asked The Family. She thought for a while. “The trees and gardens around us”, she eventually said. That’s what I was thinking. Waking in the mornings to bird calls, looking out at a sea of green (we live just above the canopy of the trees which surround us), the open views of the sky and the sea. “If it was not for that,” she said, “I think we might have been bickering all the time.” Niece Moja told us several times about how widespread domestic violence had become during this time. She said that the fraction of her clients that suffered from this had increased sharply. I could agree with The Family; we were lucky with our surroundings. But we also talked through a division of work in the house right at the beginning, and decided to keep fixed hours. I think that also worked for us. We could arrange our day to suit us.

The article that I had read also talked about the availability of amenities. We were lucky with that too. A bhajiwala and a store inside our complex kept open all through the two months of strict lockdowns. There may not have been a lot to eat, or greatly fresh vegetables, but we didn’t run out of food. Our help, who were locked up in their houses were unable to locate stores with sufficient food. Our security staff helped us to talk to the police and arrange for us to give them basic supplies once a month. This kind of relatively easy connection to the police and municipal services also helped us to stay sane.

Is this the first time in history that the middle class across the world has had almost exactly the same experience, and known that for a fact? All of us lived, and are still living, through a bad epidemic, closed in at home, totally dependent on small supplies, reading and watching the same news, the same entertainment, sharing our experiences through this new medium, which has suddenly become so central to our lives that we are more conscious of how it exploits us. What a difference between the global middle class and the poor. We know now that around 400 million people in India walked away from cities to their villages, crossing the subcontinent on foot. This distress is perhaps less visible in other countries, but it must be there. And that is another difference: I can read about your feelings and experiences and see how closely they mirrored mine, but I have little idea about the inner world of the poorer people around me.

These gardens were my hideaway for two months, while the human world went to seed. Now, as the garden goes to seed, the world around me does not exactly show signs of recovery. What was the most interesting thing that happened to me in the Anthropause? The sudden end to human noise in the sea brought a pod of curious dolphins to Backbay. They came, they looked, they played, for the first time in recorded history. Curiosity satisfied, they went back to the deeper waters in the Arabian Sea where they are normally found. That was a reminder that there are other intelligences in the world.

Author: I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

38 thoughts on “How is your life under lockdown?”

  1. You’re right that many of us have been relatively privileged during these months. The urban poor, with little access to green space, their income-stream removed have had a bad time. Now though, the reality of winter approaching and the virus on the march is highly depressing. We haven’t seen family in months and none of us has really taken to life on Zoom – certainly little ones don’t ‘get’ it, so it’s hard not having real contact with grandchildren who change so rapidly. But we just have to get on with it and not allow lockdown fatigue to make us sloppy in failing to stay as safe as we can. It would help if our government had a consistent plan though …

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  2. My experience is similar to yours, as nature is what keeps me sane.
    First, I was on a small island in the Azores, surrounded by meadows and cows and volcanoes.
    Now, I am in a small village in Bavaria, where I can walk through forests or across fields for hours.

    But then, I’ve always been someone who can stay at home and read books without getting fidgety.
    I still got a hundred books or so to read, so the pandemic may well last a few more years. 🙂

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    1. Yes, that’s roughly what would happen to me if I was entirely alone. But I’m not, and I have lovely nieces and nephews whom I haven’t seen for months. I’m usually quite content, except for the need to connect with them now and then.

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  3. “What kept us sane?” I asked The Family. She thought for a while. “The trees and gardens around us”. Is this the first time in history that the middle class across the world has had almost exactly the same experience, and known that for a fact? I select these two sentences as the ones that hit me most in this well written, contemplative post. Together with your excellent photos, they form a whole for me to think of during the day – and further on.
    They both contain questions – and answers…and much food for thought. Global knowledge has been made possible through media, IT. I have read your post several times now, and I will read it again. Indeed these are strange times, but hopefully they will bring us to more understanding of each other over the world. Thank you for this beautifully crafted eye opener. ♥

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      1. True. I believe in nature’s healing. We have to stop exploiting and go back to live together in harmony. Easier said than done. And that said, I know we are among the lucky ones in this. the future, our future depends on how we move from here.

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  4. I didn’t appreciate exactly how fortunate I was here in Southern Ontario, being able to ho out for walks and grocery shopping, even during the most strict part of the lockdown. Then my husband had to go abroad for business, and we had to quarantine for 14 days upon his return. I am not going out much these days, but not being able to go out AT ALL was driving me nuts! Today is the last day, and certainly the first thing I will do tomorrow is go shopping for groceries and walk the dog!

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  5. What a thoughtful and insightful post I.J. It does a terrific job of addressing the “we are all in the same boat” theory. Yes the pandemic has affected everyone but some so much more than others. In my area we have not had a strict lockdown like yours and have been able to enjoy the outdoors and nature as we always have, thank goodness. We’ve had very few cases but avoid our normally-weekly trips to downtown because there is more virus present there. As you say, the workers are not so fortunate and must continue to work to feed their families, and unemployment is a major issue. Thank you for this lovely exploration of the pandemic’s effect across so many strata. Our primary issue here is the inability to be with our families – I envy you that piece for sure!

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  6. I’d never seen so many people take up walking as I did during the lockdown here. I live where a walking trail is directly out my back door and honestly I was in awe! I hope it is something they’ll continue but as of now it doesn’t appear so sadly. Enjoyed your views of this experience of the crisis.

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  7. I, too, discussed about fixed working hours with my housemate during the pandemic, because otherwise we would have gone crazy in a few months’ time. I was doing quite well at first, with my houseplants and books to keep me busy during my spare time. But in recent months, the urge to go out and explore was just too much to contain. That’s why last month I decided to visit a village not too far from Jakarta to see some ancient ruins. It was a bliss.

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  8. Very powerful post, IJ. I love this: “Is this the first time in history that the middle class across the world has had almost exactly the same experience, and known that for a fact? All of us lived, and are still living, through a bad epidemic, closed in at home, totally dependent on small supplies, reading and watching the same news, the same entertainment, sharing our experiences through this new medium, which has suddenly become so central to our lives that we are more conscious of how it exploits us. What a difference between the global middle class and the poor.” I have been reading Bocaccio’s Decameron, written during the Black Death. The similarities to today are striking. The wealthy left the city and went to their country homes–much like the wealthy in New York City and other major metropolitan areas. They had the money to buy all the food they needed. Bocaccio describes the feasts and story telling of a group of wealthy friends/family who quarantine together outside Florence. What changed after the black death? The Renaissance. I’m hoping we have another explosion of culture and wisdom and artistic glory after our pandemic. Maybe I’m a foolish optimist? Who knows.

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  9. This was a very interesting post. Our media has made much of the different impact of the epidemic on economic classes, so it was not a unique thought. On the other hand, I was struck with your sentence: “Is this the first time in history that the middle class across the world has had almost exactly the same experience, and known that for a fact?” The answer would be clearly yes. Furthermore, you are in India and many of your readers are not, yet we are sharing each other’s experience. What a different world we live in even from fifty years ago.

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    1. Yes, I keep thinking how different our lives under lockdown would have been even ten years ago, when connectivity was poorer. Very limited work from home, no streaming services, no video chats with friends and family, and so on

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  10. Hi I.J., Tina recommended your post. Your deep reflection and information about people in other countries makes me realize once again how privileged I am. “We know now that around 400 million people in India walked away from cities to their villages, crossing the subcontinent on foot.” What a shocking statistic. I can’t begin to relate to that.

    We live in the in rural California. Although it hit our area severely, our own microcosm of a community has not been severely impacted. The older, middle class individuals (like my husband and me) were the least affected in a severely affected county. The poorer, younger Hispanic population in our county has suffered about seven times the number of cases as the white population. With school not in session, we see students walking around town not wearing masks and not keeping any distance between themselves. Until recently even store owners did not always wear a mask. Two store owners contracted COVID 19. In the last few weeks, we have seen more masks, and the numbers of new cases has slowed.

    By the way, your pictures were lovely, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I’m somewhat sympathetic to the sight of children and teenagers without masks, and not distancing. Not because I think that is what they should do, but because I know that at that age it is hard for people to fully understand consequences.

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      1. I get that, too. I think it’s hard for me to understand the consequences, let alone someone young who is invulnerable to everything life throws at them. 🙂 Great post and great conversation. 🙂

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  11. Thanks so much for posting these beautiful pictures of your garden hideaway and for sharing your thoughts on being quarantined for such a lengthy period of time. We share many similarities — cooking especially — but I must admit I’m tired of the pandemic and hope I can weather the upcoming wave of increased cases and cold weather. Wishing you all the best. And thanks for your insight.

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